Bar Examinations and Bar Passage

Does Law School Curriculum Affect Bar Examination Passage? An Empirical Analysis of the Factors Which Were Related to Bar Examination Passage between 2001 and 2006 at a Midwestern Law School

Douglas K. Rush, Saint Louis University
Hisako Matsuo, Saint Louis University


Legal educators are alarmed by the nationwide falling bar examination passage rate for recent law school graduates. Low bar examination passage rates deny law school graduates the opportunity to engage in their chosen profession; reflect negatively on the school from which they graduated; may result in schools with low bar examination passage rates recruiting less qualified applicants; and can, in the extreme, put those schools' ABA accreditation in jeopardy.

Some schools require the weakest students to enroll in upper division, bar examination subject-matter courses in the belief that taking those courses will increase bar examination passage for those students.

That approach, and similar ones, are overly simplistic and may be ineffective.

A simplistic approach of forcing the lowest ranked law school students to take more upper division, bar examination subject-matter courses will not solve the bar examination failure problem.